The Delray neighborhood, a blighted enclave in Southwest Detroit that's chock full of rich history, is quickly fading away.
In exchange for voluntarily leaving to make room for the Gordie Howe International Bridge, as many as 350 neighbors will partake in a swap program: They'll give up their homes in exchange for one elsewhere in Detroit owned by the city’s land bank. reports Chastity Pratt Dawsey of Bridge Magazine. Moving expenses and renovations are included.
The total package is worth up to $60,000 per homeowner. Last weekend, Detroit hosted its first walk-through of available homes in the Warrendale neighborhood on the city’s west side.
For the many, the neighborhood has memories, some which include languishing odors from industry. There's the wastewater treatment plant, the nearby Marathon Oil refinery and U.S. Steel operations on Zug Island.
For Maria Walkenbach, 58, the decision to leave her deteriorating home in the northern end of Delray wasn’t difficult. But it doesn’t mean it will be easy to leave the history-rich neighborhood that began as a waterfront village in 1898.
"It used to be a place where everybody watched out for everybody mostly, and we all knew each other," she says. "It's going to be empty with nothing there. That’s going to be sad."
In the 1930s, when it was thriving, the neighborhood was home to about 23,000 residents. Today, that figure is at about 2,000.